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"There was a time when one old eccentric guy with a notebook could do something important to science. Now even the resources of a major university are often not enough."
- Jerry Pournelle

Semi-Conducting Graphite-Gel  
  Computer brain structured like animal brain.  

In the story, the wheelies are learning robots.

...in the actual living animal brain, the whole system of synapses, neurons and connecting fibers was there to start with, and repeated activity would produce useful patterns, but with the wheelies' undifferentiated mass of semi-conducting graphite-gel it was more like the lining up of polarized particles in a magnetic field.
From Callahan and the Wheelies, by Stephen Barr.
Published by Fantasy and Science Fiction in 1960
Additional resources -

Compare to the positronic brain from Isaac Asimov's 1941 short story Reason and the Artificial Brain from Edmond Hamilton's 1926 story The Metal Giants.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Callahan and the Wheelies
  More Ideas and Technology by Stephen Barr
  Tech news articles related to Callahan and the Wheelies
  Tech news articles related to works by Stephen Barr

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